St. Kitts – Nevis
Thursday September 06, 2007
Curator of the National Museum in St. Kitts – Nevis, Hazel Brookes is currently in Liverpool, United Kingdom, where she has been sharing information on the horrific Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and its impact on the lives of Caribbean people today, with students in a workshop on “Life in the Caribbean”.
Her audience comprises high and primary school students from Chepstow who have registered for the workshop.
Chepstow Museum, the host of the programme, has previously featured a Kittitian ex-slave, Nathaniel Wells, who went on to become the first black Sheriff in Britain, in the 1800s.
According to Brookes, no other Caribbean museum is taking part in this programme, “Signalling yet another first for St. Kitts/Nevis,” she said. The importance of this first?
She believes that it will give a louder voice, in the field of heritage, to the National Museum here.
“I am currently writing about a particular slave who lived in St. Kitts,” she said, “that will be published at a later date and is featured in the International Slavery Museum.”
Brookes’ visit coincided with the opening of the International Slavery Museum, which took place on Slavery Remembrance Day, 23 Aug., which is celebrated in Liverpool annually.
Both activities also occurred simultaneously with worldwide events that were organised to commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of the Slave Trade, including a Cry Freedom Concert in St. Kitts, featuring Mutabaruka and Black Stalin.
Brookes, whose expressions have been used to describe displays for the International Slavery Museum, has written the Diaspora, Racism, Cultural Transformation, Global Inequalities, Reparations and Memorialisation sections of the new exhibition.
She said St. Kitts holds a very high profile in the slavery museum as evidenced by the construction and placement of a display that was modelled after Estridge Estate in St. Kitts.
“An archaeology project is being conducted at Estridge through the resources of the slavery museum,” she said, “which we all hope will enable the Federation to benefit even more, through this collaboration.
“Many photographs and footage have been used in the visuals,” she said, “and Kittitians have acted in roles in some of those presentations as well.”
Brimstone Hill imagery is also being featured.
Brookes has also noted that actual names of slaves from St. Kitts are being used in the display.
This information has been sourced from the National Archives in St. Kitts.
Brookes, a member of the St. Christopher’s Heritage Society, credits much of her research and writing success to Viki O’Flaherty of the National Archives and Alex Robinson, sister to expat artist, Rosie Cameron Smith.
“Mrs. O’Flaherty has added to the relationship that is now being developed between our National Museum,” Brookes has said, “and our hosts at the Chepstow Museum in Wales. And Alex, she was the main text writer and wrote the panels used in the ‘Life in the Americas displays’.”
“What I hope this will do,” Brookes has said, “is to draw attention to our efforts to preserve our identity and heritage…,” which museum officials agree, can enable the National Museum to accomplish its objectives, through the creation of a model for future interactions between would-be facilitators from St. Kitts and international museums.